Saturday, April 25, 2009

Visit of Soldiers to Western U.S.

A contingent of five soldiers from Ashkelon Coast-Kiryat Malachi represented the Partnership in Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut ceremonies in six communities: Tucson, Phoenix, Seattle, Long Beach, Sacramento and Silicon Valley.

Two, Lital Shalev from Moshav Gea and Yisrael Eini from Kiryat Malachi, visited Tucson, Phoenix, and Seattle. Yisrael had previously been to Palm Springs as a counselor through our partnership, and Lital was in Tucson as a counselor several years ago.
In Tucson, after arriving mid-day Friday, April 24,, they visited the Tucson Hebrew Academy and gave a pre-Shabbat talk to the about 60 or 70 students plus their teachers and then answered questions. Lital, together with Ken Miller and his wife, attended Friday night Shabbat services at Temple Emanuel (Reform) where Lital gave a short talk to about 70 in attendance about who she is and where she lives and then chatted with people at the Kiddush after the service. Yisrael spent Shabbat with a Chabad Family and enjoyed talking with them about Israel. The Hillel shaliach at the University of Arizona and some Hillel students spent time with Lital during the day. and then partipated in the Jewish community Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) service.
It was Lital's birthday, so the Millers took Lital out for dinner, and the waiter sang "Happy Birthday" to her and brought her a small cake.
After dinner Lital and Israel went to the University to a party.
Sunday, after working on their speeches, they two gave a 7-minute speech at the Yom HaZikaron ceremony where over 300 people were in attendance.
You can see the singing of the song from the ceremony, Tishmor Al Ha'Olam, Yeled, by a trio and the two soldiers at attention to the left by visiting this YouTube site: Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4mwLnEBtkk&feature=channel_page

The two were in Seattle from April 27 to 30. Yisrael visited NW Yeshiva High School, talked to two classes and participated in the Yom Hazikaron service at the school, leading Hatikva as he stood at attention.



NW Yishiva high school students lighting memorial candles

Yisrael also spoke to middle school students at the Seattle Hebrew Academy.

8th graders at Seattle Hebrew Academy
At both places, Yisrael explained that it is easy to be religious (Orthodox) in the army. All the food is kosher and Shabbat is observed. If there is an urgent need to do something on Shabbat, it is done and is halachlically approved.
The two also participated in a program at the Jewish Day School of Greater Seattle and spoke to 3--7th grade youth at the Herzl-Ner Tamid supplemental religious school.
Lital at Herzl in uniform

Lital and Yisrael with Herzl-Ner Tamid group
The principal of the school said that the youth were very impressed by the soldiers and went home and told their parents about their visit. One thing that impressed them was that Israeli officers could be so young. One child asked if the two would have entered the army if it were not compulsory. They responded strongly that they would because it is their responsibility to their country.

In addition, hey talked to several Jewish Youth clubs at public schools, two classes at Roosevelt High School,
Explaining army uniforms to Roosevelt class

Sara Lahyani from the Federation, Lital, Yisrael, and Roosevelt HS teacher
spoke to the Federation Young Adult leadership group, chatted with University of Washington service on the 29th at the Israelpalooza event, and spoke before the showing of two Israeli films at the Seattle Jewish Film Festival.

With host mom, Julie Margulies, who will be volunteering in Kiryat Malachi this summer

They were able to see snow on Mount Rainier and other mountains in the area on arrival and departure, but only had rain and cloudy days in between, but the people they met were quite warm and friendly.

In Phoenix, from Thursday afternoon, April 30th through Sunday, May 2, the two spoke at 9 different places including 30 high school students at Hebrew High, the Federation staff, 50 youth in 9th and 10th grade at Jess Schwartz College Prep, 60 middle schoolers and staff at Pardes Jewish Day School, and 30 6th--8th graders at the Phoenix Hebrew Academy.
One spoke at Temple Chai Shabbat services and the other at Young Israel's Young Israel seudat shlishit. They also spoke to middle schoolers at Har Zion religious school and were involved at the community Independence Day Celebration, which over 1000 people attended.


TIPS table at Phoenix's Yom Haatzmaut

Yisrael, Lital, Sharron (Shalicha) and volunteers at TIPS table

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut in TIPS US Cities

MOMENT OF SILENCE IN SEATTLE

As Israel does every year on Yom Hazikaron, in Seattle on April 28 at 11am, the entire Jewish community will be observing a Moment of Silence for Yom Hazikaron or Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror. We hope you will join the two minutes of silence from wherever you are. We are publicizing the event on public buses and throughout town.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Volunteering in Kiryat Malachi, winter 2009

Adam tutoring English

Note from Adam Resnick, an Otzma volunteer from Phoenix, part of a group of 6 in Kiryat Malachi, , on the completion of his volunteering in Kiryat Malachi at the end of March, 2009:
Adam and other Otzma volunteers
I am writing you to express my utmost gratitude for giving me the opportunity to live and volunteer in the Phoenix partnership city of Kiryat Malachi for the months of February and March. My time there made an enormous impression on my life, and it is not something I will soon forget. I would also like to briefly share my experiences in Kiryat Malachi with you, along with the ways in which I see how the Federation is making a profound impact in providing for this struggling town.

As a volunteer and resident in Kiryat Malachi, most of my time was spent tutoring students in English. Because I am a native English speaker, and because English is such an important language for the students to learn in order to have a chance to attend and succeed in university, I was more than happy to help them in English as much as I was capable. I worked as a tutor in three different schools: Amit high school, Amal high school, and Netzhak elementary school. Adam with a girl from Netzach Yisrael Elementary School in Kiryat Malachi

At Amit, the religious high school, I worked with four different English classes three times a week. Usually, a teacher would give me two to three students to take out of class to either converse with them in English, or to help them with an English project they were assigned. I especially liked conversing with the students. Not only was it the most effective way for me to help them with their English, but it also gave me the chance to connect with them on a more personal level and learn about what it's like for them to live in Kiryat Malachi. The students, while sometimes shy at first, would often open up to me about all sorts of things pertaining to their lives. It was interesting to hear about their families and how they felt about such issues as the Arab-Israeli conflict and the operation in Gaza. Likewise, the kids were very interested in my life and what it's like to live in America. They seemed to think that everyone in America is rich, and when I told them I was far from rich, they didn't believe me. Most of them were also under the assumption that I personally knew all of their favorite American singers and they were disappointed to find out that that was also not the case. Also, because they were all religious, they were interested in knowing my eating habits. When I told them that I didn't keep kosher, they were shocked and told me that I shouldn't eat meat and cheese together because "it makes your brain smaller" (Luckily, they were lacking scientific evidence).

At Amal, the secular high school, I only worked with one class twice a week. I would often take three or four students out of class and help them with English vocabulary or review for an upcoming test. I became good buddies with one of the boys whose English was good, and after class, he would take me to a nearby park to play basketball. There, we would play HORSE while he practiced speaking English and I worked on my Hebrew. Fortunately, my basketball skills are better than my Hebrew skills and I never lost a game to him, but his English did improve a great deal in the couple months I spent with him.
A student at Netzach outside on a cold but sunny day

I went to Netzhak elementary school twice a week. I went once a week during the school day and once for an after school program.

The kids there were a lot of fun, and going to see them was the best part of my volunteering. And even though their English was almost non existent and my Hebrew wasn't all that good, we managed to get by and form bonds with each other. During the school day, I would help the kids learn the English alphabet and with very simple reading. Zara Friedman, an Otzma volunteer from Seattle, with Netzach children

A lot of the kids were really bright and had a lot of enthusiasm to learn English with me. In the after school program, I would help the kids with their English project and play soccer
Adam and boys from Netzach
In the evenings, I went to Migdal Or, a teen center for troubled youth. Migdal Or is a great place for the kids to enjoy themselves and stay busy and off the streets at the same time. There, I just hung out and acted as a friend to the kids, which often consisted of me getting my butt whooped and my ego shrunken in intense games of Ping-Pong.

When I wasn't working, I spent my time getting to know Kiryat Malachi. The city, while not exactly pleasing to the eye or the nose, was an enjoyable place for me to be. People were nice and I got a real sense of community there. Also, as the only light haired blue-eyed resident of the city, I got my fair share of attention whenever I was walking around town.

While Kiryat Malachi is filled with nice people and a supportive community, it is still a city in desperate need of more help. I know that my two months there, while helpful, was not enough to truly make a difference. Poverty is very high there, and the standard of living is much lower than that of the rest of Israel. In fact, sometimes you get the sense that it's being neglected by Israel altogether. For this reason, I really appreciate the work the federation has put into helping improve Kiryat Malachi, and I urge the federation to continue to support the city with the same amount of dedication that you have in the past. As someone who lived there for two months, I can say that the hard work is evident throughout the city and it's hard to imagine where Kiryat Malachi would be without the help of the federation.

Much Thanks,
Adam
Adam and other 5 Otzma volunteer in Kiryat Malachi, plus Ira Kerem, TIPS staff person

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Purim, volunteering exeriences in Kiryat Malachi, etc--dated March 21

More from Tamara

The holiday of Purim was recently celebrated in Israel. All schools got three days off from classes for it. The day before Purim, the schools had parties and everyone wore their costumes to school, like in the US for Halloween.

For weeks before, everyone kept asking us what we were dressing up as. In all the shopping centers, photography booths popped up so that people could get pictures of their kids dressed as lions, princesses, or Darth Vader.

Also much like the US, teenagers love to play tricks for Purim. Firecrackers, though illegal, were plentiful in Kiryat Malachi. Teenagers loved throwing them in the school halls during class, or during the breaks or at the nearest American volunteer (aka us). We were all very happy to see the firecrackers go as the holiday ended.

It took us awhile to figure out what to do for Purim. There is a big street party in Tel Aviv. In a neighborhood called Florentine, all the roads are blocked off and everyone comes out in costume. We ended up going to the party thrown by Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva. Two engineering students who were with us were set on winning the costume contest. They decided to go as Asterix and Obelix, characters in a French cartoon. We were able to witness the last minute frenzy of sewing the costumes together, stuffing the fake belly with foam padding, and making sure all the lights on the costumes turned on (they were electrical engineering students). At the end of the night though, they won a flat screen TV. At a later party, they won a trip to Turkey for their costumes.

After Purim, we only had two weeks left in Kiryat Malachi before the Passover break. We are all starting to wrap up our volunteering. My favorite thing I've done here was working at the senior center. I work in the art room there doing little projects and talking to the seniors. One who I've gotten to know well, came from Spain in 1950 when he was fifteen. He came on his own and lived in Jerusalem for 6 years before the rest of his family came to Kiryat Malachi and he moved to the city too. Another man that I've met was born in Kiryat Malachi when it was still a tent city. Almost everyone who frequents the senior center was born in a different country and immigrated. It's really interesting to talk to them and hear their stories about how they came, their lives here, and where their families are now. They are all also very patient in helping me with my Hebrew, since they all had to learn it as a second language too, they understand when I make mistakes or don't know certain words and love to teach me.

I also really love working with the high school seniors. I work with the highest level, so they all speak really good English. I spent my first few weeks with them preparing them for their oral exams in English, so I interviewed them all about their lives. Once I went over to my students' houses when I was in Kiryat Malachi for a weekend.

After we finish here, we have a two week break for Passover. I'm going to be going to Turkey for part of it with a few friends. After our break, we begin the internship portion of OTZMA- the last track. I'm going to be living in Jerusalem working for the Ethiopian National Project. ENP works to bring programming to Ethiopian teenagers to help them succeed. Many of the teen centers that OTZMAnikim have been working at are funded by the Ethiopian National Project. I'm looking forward to working for them, but I can't believe it's the almost the third track already. This year has gone so fast for all of us. A little more than 2.5 months until OTZMA is over.

Feb 22: A few comments on Israeli Culture

Another excerpt from Tamara's blog ( BTW, before coming to Kiryat Malachi, the Otzma group had been in Israel for at least 5 months already)

One thing is very important to understand about Israel- everyone is family. It is completely acceptable for cab drivers to ask you if you are here to look for your husband, and then offer their son to you as an option and invite you over for Shabbat dinner to meet him. This has also happened on a regular basis with people who sell vegetables at the shuk. People will invite you to come stay with them after conversations even as short as ten minutes. (Dditorial comment: this is quite common in Kiryat Malachi, and the inviter is very sincere.)

Israelis are also very proud of their cell phones- especially teenagers. It is their most prized possession. All teenagers use their cell phones as ipods but you can hear them without headphones too. Often during classes someone will whip out a cel lphone and put music on for everyone to enjoy- because listening to music in English is much more interesting than actually trying to learn something from me.

There is also a major difference in Israeli dress- especially in the periphery. Since living here, I have seen more zippers than I have ever seen before. Extra zippers apparently add some spunk and decoration to a boring pair of jeans. Many tops look like they've been bedazzled near to death. It entertains us to no end.

Music from the 90's is huge here. Every bar we go into plays hits from the 90's and every teenage boy can play "Time of Your Life" by Greenday on guitar.This is a taste of what daily life in Israel is like for us.

All these cultural differences we find all the time make great conversation topics between ourselves and make us appreciate the differences between here and the US. It adds flavor to everyday life. Every bite of humus we eat is just a little bit better because of all this.

From an Otzmanik in Kiryat Malachi from Feb. to Pesach


Tamara Maltiel, one of the 5 Otzmaniks who were in Kiryat Malachi from early February until Pesach, has given me permission to post her blog on our website. I'm putting pertinent parts on here. They really give you an inight into the town and people Here is the first entry from February 14.

Kiryat Malachi translates to the City of Angels in English. People make a lot of jokes of how it is just like Los Angeles and often ask us (as Americans we are the official experts on Los Angeles) if it is true. It's not.

Kiryat Malachi is a very small city in Israel. We walk across it in about fifteen minutes. Our apartment has a great location in the city. We are right across the street from MegaBol- the grocery store, the open-air market, the gym, and a few blocks from Kastina-a major bus stop in Israel.

The gym is great. You step into it and it feels like you're stepping into America. It's huge, clean and everything works. In the gym, there's a smoothie bar, a spa with lounge chairs right by it, and a steam room. There's really nice shower rooms which we have definitely made use of during the week our shower stopped getting hot water. The gym also offers classes for us. We have already experimented classes from pilates to spinning to belly dancing. Zara and I are in love with our new belly dancing classes- we both now have belly dancing skirts with bells to wear to the classes.

Slowly and surely, we have picked up volunteering in this city. I work in both an elementary school and a high school, tutoring English during the mornings. I've learned that I love working with all ages except 7-9th grade. Last Wednesday, after Zara, Sarah and I finished with our 7th grade classes, we were all so worn out from dealing with them. Luckily right after seventh grade is 12th which is the funnest group. Right now, the 12th graders are preparing for a big oral English exam that all high school seniors have to take. We prepare them for their interviews so we spend a few hours talking to them all, finding out about them and what they do in their free time (a little bit of research so that we can know what to do in our free time). I met one boy that is going to be a hacker in the army next year and is a photographer in his free time.

One girl is named Ruth Danna. Her mother always wanted to name her daughter Danna, but before she had her daughter, her mother-in-law came to her in a dream, told her she was pregnant with a girl, and that she should name it after her, Ruth. That's how she got the two names Ruth Danna.

It appears that every teenage girl in Kiryat Malachi has fallen in love with Adam, the only boy in our group there. All of us have experienced trying to teach a girl English who is not paying attention until Adam comes in. Then they suddenly develop a keen interest in the language. Once I was trying to get a group to create a poster for Tu B'Shvat. One girl was far more interested in chatting with her friends until Adam came in. She immediately asked me how to say "You have beautiful eyes" in English.

All of us girls have experienced the opposite. I had the unique experience of trying to help a group of 11th grade boys write an essay about eating healthily (in English). They were far more interested in using the English they knew to find out if I had a boyfriend, where I lived, what my plans were for that night, and if I wanted to come over for dinner.

The city itself is an interesting place. There are more shwarma stands than are really necessary for a city of that size. It is a much busier place than either Arad or Natzrat Ilit, where we had been before, so it is nice to feel something different.

There are also a lot more young people in Kiryat Malachi. For some reason the high school seniors all look like they're 23 so it's hard to tell if the people we see are our age or younger. We made friends with a group of soldiers who are volunteering in the city. They are in a unit called nachal which is more community-oriented. They volunteer at all the same places we do. We sometimes hear firecrackers go off (it’s before Purim). Even in the hallways at school, the kids are lighting firecrackers. At first it scared us every time they went off, but we're getting used to it. But it really scares some kids. I was working in an afterschool program with 4th graders and firecrackers were going off when they were on a break. It really scared all of the kids, especially since they heard kassam rockets fall in Janary.

Seeing Americans is definitely a rare experience in Kiryat Malachi. We get stared at a lot when we walk around because we obviously stand out. Everyone asks us what we're doing here, especially once they hear us speak. One little girl first thought I was from Africa. When I told her I was from the United States, her first question was if there are kassams in the United States. The kids in the schools love having us here. We get to play with them and teach them English in fun ways through games and music.

Next week I begin working in a teen center, which has been my favorite thing so far in the other cities. It's always more fun hanging out and getting to know them in a less formal setting. Once I start that, I'll have my schedule all set up and full and officially feel settled in Kiryat Malachi.